Mould often causes alot of tenant anxiety and landlord stress.
In this article
• Causes of damp and condensation leading to the dreaded mould
• Landlord and tenant responsibilities
Damp is very common in UK homes and can have all kinds of affects, including causing mould on walls and furniture or making timber window frames rot.
Damp also encourages the growth of mould and mites which can be bad for your health. The mould fungi have been identified as the source of many health problems, including infections, asthma, allergies and sinusitis.
Moulds produce allergens, irritants, and in some cases, toxins that may cause reactions in humans. While some damp is caused by a problem with the building itself, many cases are caused by condensation. Knowing the cause of the problem will help determine what needs to be done and by whom.
The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 makes your landlord responsible for repairing the structure and exterior of your home so long as your tenancy is for a term of less than seven years. The Housing Act 2004 makes it clear that ‘the structure and exterior of the property’ includes all outside walls, roof, external doors and windows.
What the law means
Your landlord should make sure that your home is watertight at all times. If the damp problem is caused by a defect in the structure of the property, then the landlord needs to ensure that there is adequate damp proofing and ventilation.
If the cause is structural damage to the exterior, such as the roof or walls, then your landlord has a legal obligation to repair the damage under Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985.
If there is a ‘tidemark’ effect on walls then the problem is rising or penetrative damp. It could be caused by rain seeping through windows, leaks, blocked gutters, or due to a defective or missing damp proof course.
If there is mould low down by the skirting boards this is a sign of rising damp. As you are the eyes and ears for the property you will need to alert your landlord in writing as soon as you notice a problem to prevent any further damage.
Wipe off excess moisture and/or mould that is black and speckled then this is more likely condensation. For example, steamy showers, cooking on the hob and drying laundry indoors all cause condensation to form. There are steps that should be taken to prevent this:
- Reduce moisture – use saucepan lids when cooking on the hob and turn kettles off, turn on extractor fans in the kitchen and bathroom and leave them for a time, avoid drying clothes over radiators and heaters, dry washing outdoors or in the bathroom with a window open and fan on, vent tumble dryers correctly or using a self-condensing type unit, dry surfaces off immediately to prevent black mould forming which is difficult to eliminate.
- Ventilate – ventilate rooms when in use by opening windows or using trickle ventilators, place cupboards and wardrobes against internal walls and try not to over fill them to allow circulation, prevent damp air spreading from room to room by closing doors, avoid completely draught proofing windows especially in bathrooms and kitchens, open curtains during the day to allow moisture to escape through vents in windows.
- Keep your home warm – keeping a consistent temperature will prevent cold surfaces forming, use dry heat sources and avoid paraffin and portable gas heaters, draft proof to keep warm and cut fuel costs, a small amount of heat and ventilation is needed bedrooms at night as we give off moisture into the air during sleep.